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Native Cultural Charter School moves into Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School

Alaska Native Charter School is moving into East High School
Alaska Native Charter School is moving into East High School(ktuu)
Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 4:55 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Native Cultural Charter School has found a new home after the Anchorage School District declared its former building unsafe during COVID-19.

Charter school staff are in the process of moving into a wing of the Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School, where they will remain for the rest of this school year and next.

Native Cultural Charter School Principal Sheila Sweetsir said the school, which has operated for several years out of a leased building on Bragaw Street, had issues with ventilation and air flow to the classrooms.

“We communicated with ASD and they had someone come out and look at the air flow and realized that we did not have the proper air flow for our students,” she said. “It was safe for our staff to be in there, but it was not okay for our students to be in there.”

Sweetsir said the school was anxious to bring hundreds of K-8 students back to in-person learning as soon as possible. But after discussions with the landlord, they realized repairing the building would not be an easy fix.

Instead, the school teamed up with the district to hunt for a new home, which they found, right down the street.

East High Principal Sam Spinella said declining enrollment has meant his school has extra space. The charter school is moving into the second floor of what’s known as the Benson Wing.

Spinella said, for the most part, the younger students will be separated from high school students.

“It’s going to be interesting to see little kids in the building because we’ve not seen little kids before here,” he said.

And while East High teachers did have to do some shuffling to consolidate space for the charter school, Spinella said everyone seems on board with the new arrangement.

“Our teachers were great. They were very gracious and willing to do it. And the whole thing is, they were doing it for kids and that’s what they wanted to do,” he said.

The arrangement is not a permanent one. The charter school is still searching for a space where they won’t have to move. In the meantime, Sweetsir said she’s grateful things have gone so smoothly and so quickly.

“In a matter of 3 days we packed up our whole school,” she said. “We have two days, we are moving in, and we are going to be prepared and ready for our students on March 15.”

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